What Are Deliverables?

The term "deliverables" is a project management term that's traditionally used to describe the quantifiable goods or services that must be provided upon the completion of a project. Deliverables can be tangible or intangible in nature. For example, in a project focusing on upgrading a firm's technology, a deliverable may refer to the acquisition of a dozen new computers.

On the other hand, for a software project, a deliverable might allude to the implementation of a computer program aimed at improving a company's accounts receivable computational efficiency.

Key Takeaways

  • The word "deliverables" is a project management term describing the quantifiable goods or services that must be provided upon the completion of a project.
  • Deliverables can be tangible in nature, such as the acquisition of a dozen new computers, or they can be intangible, like the implementation of a computer program aimed at improving a company's accounts receivable computational efficiency.
  • A deliverable may refer to in-person or online training programs, as well as design samples for products in the process of being developed.
  • In many cases, deliverables are accompanied by instruction manuals.
  • In film production, deliverables refer to the range of audio, visual, and paperwork files that producers must furnish to distributors.
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Deliverables

Understanding Deliverables

In addition to computer equipment and software programs, a deliverable may refer to in-person or online training programs, as well as design samples for products in the process of being developed. In many cases, deliverables are accompanied by instruction manuals.

Documentation

Deliverables are usually contractually obligated requirements, detailed in agreements drawn up between two related parties within a company, or between a client and an outside consultant or developer. The documentation precisely articulates the description of a deliverable, as well as the delivery timeline and payment terms.

Sometimes, distributors that are purchasing independent films for theatrical release will not include a list of deliverables with the first draft of a term sheet; it's thus important for filmmakers to proactively ask for the expected deliverables so that they can be assembled in a timely manner.

Milestones

Many large projects include milestones, which are interim goals and targets that must be achieved by stipulated points in time. A milestone may refer to a portion of the deliverable due, or it may merely refer to a detailed progress report, describing the current status of a project.

Film Deliverables

In film production, deliverables refer to the range of audio, visual, and paperwork files that producers must furnish to distributors. Audio and visual materials generally include stereo and Dolby 5.1 sound mixes, music and sound effects on separate files, as well as the full movie in a specified format.

Paperwork deliverables include signed and executed licensing agreements for all music, errors, and omissions reports, performance releases for all on-screen talent, a list of the credit block that will appear in all artwork and advertising, as well as location, artwork, and logo legal releases. Films deliverables also pertain to elements that are ancillary to the movies themselves. These items include the trailer, TV spots, publicity stills photographed on set, and other legal work.

Types of Deliverables

Tangible vs. Intangible Deliverables

Deliverables can be tangible or intangible. An example of a tangible deliverable would be the construction of a new office to place new workers that don't fit in the old office or a new manufacturing plant that needs to be built to meet increased production levels. An example of an intangible deliverable would be a training program for employees to teach them how to use new software that will be used at the company.

Internal Deliverables vs. External Deliverables

Internal deliverables are those deliverables that are in-house and required to complete a project, deliver a good, or provide a service. Internal deliverables are not seen by the customer and are not considered final. They are merely deliverables that are part of the steps in a project that will lead to the completion of that project. For example, the construction of a factory to produce more goods to meet increased customer demand would be an internal deliverable. Internal deliverables in project management are commonly known as project deliverables.

At the start of a project, it is important to clearly define project deliverables, which can be in the form of a SWOT analysis, a gap analysis, a project scope statement, a design presentation, or a Gantt chart.

External deliverables, on the other hand, are final and provided to the customer. In the example above, the external deliverable would be the final good that comes out of the new factory that the customer will purchase and use. In project management, external deliverables are commonly known as product deliverables.

Requirements for Deliverables

At the start of any project, there must be a defined end goal of what is to be achieved. There must then be a clearly defined path to achieve that goal. A project manager can lay out a timeline with deliverables to be met at certain intervals, which are the milestones. Each project will have different requirements for the deliverables that need to be completed by the milestone dates. The types of projects can be process-based, a phased approach, product-based, or a critical change.

Regardless of the type of project, all will have set stages, which typically include the initiation phase, the planning phase, the execution phase, the monitoring phase, and the closing phase. At each of these phases, there will be a requirement for different deliverables. For example, in the planning phase, a deliverable might be a report outlining the entire project, whereas in the monitoring phase the deliverables will be to report on the quality of the new product that was created.

When a project is initiated there will be a contract drafted that will list expectations, timelines, and the types of deliverables to be provided. These contracts can be drafted internally with different departments within an organization for project deliverables and with external clients for product deliverables. Certain documentation may also take the form of a statement of work (SOW), which is a document created at the onset of a project that outlines all aspects of the project that multiple parties can agree upon to set expectations.

The Bottom Line

Deliverables are the quantifiable goods or services that need to be provided at the various steps of a project as well as at the end of a project. Deliverables help to keep projects on course and allow for an efficient allocation of time and money. They help managers stay on course and are critical in the success of a business.